Boston, MA: A statewide proposal that seeks to allow for the possession and state-licensed distribution of cannabis for therapeutic purposes will appear on the November electoral ballot.
A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office reported this week that initiative proponents, the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, had collected sufficient signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the 2012 ballot.
If passed by voters this fall, the measure would eliminate statewide criminal and civil penalties related to the possession and use of up to a 60-day supply of cannabis by qualified patients. It would also require the state to create and regulate up to 35 facilities to produce and dispense cannabis to approved patients. Individual patients will also be permitted to privately cultivate limited amounts of cannabis if they are unable to access a state-authorized dispensary.
The Massachusetts Medical Society, the state's largest doctor's organization, is campaigning against the proposal.
If approved, Massachusetts will become the 18th state since 1996 to allow for the limited legalization of marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Several other New England states - Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont - already allow for the use of medical cannabis.
The results of a recent statewide survey by the firm Public Policy Polling reported that Massachusetts' voters favor the measure, with 53 percent of respondents indicating that they will vote 'yes' on the initiative versus only 35 percent who said that they would vote 'no.'
In 2008, 65 percent of voters approved a ballot initiative decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses.
Voters in at least three other states - Colorado, Montana, and Washington - will also be deciding on marijuana-specific ballot measures this November. Montana voters will decide on Initiative Referendum 124, which seeks to repeal amendments enacted by lawmakers in 2011 to restrict the state's 2004, voter approved medical cannabis law. Colorado voters will decide on Amendment 64, which would immediately allow for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants by those persons age 21 and over. Longer-term, the measure seeks to establish regulations governing the commercial production and distribution of marijuana by licensed retailers. In Washington, voters will decide on Initiative 502, which seeks legalize and to regulate the production and sale of limited amounts of marijuana for adults.
For more information, please visit: http://www.masspatients.org/site/. NORML has additional details about this and other 2012 ballot proposals at its newly redesigned 'Smoke the Vote' website here: http://norml.org/about/smoke-the-vote.